Breaker Broken?


Old 08-03-08, 09:37 AM
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Breaker Broken?

Hi, I have a 2 family home. Although the house has room for 2 meters and has 2 boxes, I only have one meter. Recently, I rented out the upstairs. The power has been going off up there for no reason, nothing imparticular is instantly blowing the breaker. To reset the power, I have to reset a 50 amp breaker in the 1st box. This apparently, supplies all power to the second box. My question is: The breaker that blows feels loose, could it need replacing? Also, it is a 50 amp breaker. Should this be upgraded possibly to handle a larger load? there is a hot tub that is running off the second panel on a 50 as well as your normal household amounts.
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Old 08-03-08, 11:44 AM
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Important things first: you cannot replace that 50-amp breaker with something larger without creating a serious risk of fire. Don't even think about it.

The breaker should not be "loose", although I'm not sure how loose it is. Breakers can go bad, but it is pretty rare.

Note that some appliances use a lot more power than you might think. Vacuum cleaners, air conditioners, hair dryers, treadmills, tanning beds, and space heaters use a lot more power than most people think. The hot tub all by itself can use most of that 50-amp power.

But if you are convinced that the breaker is tripping when nothing significant is running (i.e., when the hot tub hasn't been on for several days), then you might try replacing the breaker. Make sure you use the same size breaker (50 amps) and make sure it is the correct make and model for the panel it is in. You might also want to have an electrician inspect the bus. Be aware that replacing a breaker can expose you to significant hazards, even if you shut the main breaker off. So don't do it unless you are absolutely sure you know what you're doing.

If the breaker is tripping when the hot tub is on or has been recently used, then you probably need to run the hot tub off the main panel instead of the subpanel, or you need a new panel specifically for the hot tub. Note that hot tubs usually have a panel devoted exclusively for that.
Old 08-03-08, 03:51 PM
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What brand panel box? Is it Federal Pacific?
Old 08-03-08, 04:24 PM
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Make sure to inspect the bus-bar after removing the c/b. Certain brands can become severly pitted (sometimes close to a literal melt down.) Many zinsco bus-bars are made of a very soft alloy (aluminun maybe??) and are prone to severe damage from arcing. Federal Pacific we all know are fire traps and should be replaced a.s.a.p.

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